As loyal readers, and non readers, are aware the number of scams whereby the perpetrators claim to be HMRC are on the rise.
BBC Radio 5 Live's Wake Up to Money reported that cases had risen to about 85,000 a month now, compared with 70,000 on a typical month last year. These are cases when fraudsters contact potential victims via phone, text or email, claiming to be from HMRC, and often suggesting people are owed a tax refund or need to pay more.
He is quoted by the BBC:
"The weakest link is the taxpayer. It is difficult to be too critical of the taxpayer and HMRC because many of the scammers are using the opaqueness of tax and our interactions or lack of with HMRC to steal the taxpayers money.He suggested people checked that any correspondence with HMRC tied in with an individual's tax assessment.
Most people are scared of HMRC and regardless of how fully up to date their tax affairs are will always, because of the opaqueness of tax, give HMRC the benefit of the doubt and think they have underpaid."
He also urged people to look up the official HMRC phone numbers before calling, rather than assuming any number they were told was correct.
"It is a new world we live in when it comes to tax scams, don't be a victim and do your own due diligence. Just a few simple checks to avoid being taken for a ride."He's being very polite, part of the weakness of the system that exposes taxpayers to fraudsters is the complexity of the tax system (so complex that even HMRC doesn't understand it), and the lousy systems and practises that HMRC operates that makes it all but impossible not to be afraid of it or to communicate meaningfully with it.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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